Ever so close to the "Mario On The Road To Nowhere" Review

S.C.A.R.S.,S.C.A.R.S Info


  • N/A


  • N/A


  • Ubisoft


  • N/A

Release Date

  • 01/01/1970
  • Out Now


  • N64
  • PC
  • PS


Ever so close to the "Mario On The Road To Nowhere"

Brace yourself for confusion: First there was Mario Brothers in the

arcades. Then came Super Mario Brothers on the original Nintendo Entertainment

System. SMB was followed by 2 other NES sequels. Then came Super Mario

on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Then came Mario Kart

for the SNES, a Mario racing game. Then came Wacky Wheels, the uncannily

similar animal-themed PC rip off of Mario Kart. Then came Mario

on the Nintendo 64. Then came Mario

Kart 64
. Now comes Ubi Soft’s S.C.A.R.S., which is the only real

“spiritual sequel” to Wacky Wheels, making it similar to Mario Kart

. You all got that?

As S.C.A.R.S.

is what it is (if you don’t know what it is, read the above paragraph. If you

still don’t get it, eat a bag of toasted chestnuts and try again), what we have

here is a highly cartoon-ish, arcade style racing game. It features 9 diverse

off road tracks, 9 animal and insect themed cars, the ability to jump, and non-lethal


There are 5 racing modes. Grand Prix (championship), Custom Circuit, Challenge,

Time Attack, and Split Screen 2 player (sadly enough that’s the only multiplayer).

In Grand Prix you progress through 4 “cups” (memories of Mario Kart 64 come

flooding back like the Mississippi in 1995). Each one of these “cups” gets progressively

more difficult and gives you access to more of S.C.A.R.S’ 9 tracks, since

you only start with 2. You gain points for your finishing position in every

race, and if you were the most violent or had the best lap. In order to proceed

to the next track you must have a cumulative minimum score. Of course, your

point score also determines if you manage to get to the podium. In another similarity

to Mario Kart, your starting position in each race is linked to your

position in the championship. Custom Circuit is a racing season in which you

pick which tracks you want and at which time of day (night racing is particularly


In Challenge mode you go head to head with one of the 4 cars that you cannot

choose at the beginning. Should you win a race against one of these superior

cars, you gain access to it. Time Attack… well… I think that all of you

critically huddled, squirming, squeaking, squirrel-like game playing masses

out there know what Time Attack is.

Split Screen is the only multiplayer mode in the entire game, where two people

may compete on the same PC, crowded at the keyboard. There is no modem, LAN

or internet play!
(Shock! Horror!). Although it is cool to have split

screen, a feature that most racing games lack these days, in 1999 it seems a

little late to be making games that do not have any kind of internet multiplayer.

The graphics in S.C.A.R.S. are a mixed bag. The racing environments

are colorful, cartoon-ish, and refreshingly light and fun. The cars are somewhat

bland though, with low polygon counts and design that does little to mimic the

animal that they are supposedly representing. The weapons, wheels , and most

of the scenery are bitmaps. The wheels, for instance, use the old Wing Commander

1 and 2 principal of simulating 3D by having a lot of different sprites for

different camera angles. There aren’t quite enough frames of 2D animation though,

and the sprites in the game give a choppy felling to a game that runs at 60

FPS on a P133 with a first generation voodoo card.

The sound is fairly

adequate. The music on the other hand is easily some of the best yet heard in

a racing game. S.C.A.R.S. without music is a throwaway. With the music

on, the creative and energetic tunes add a much needed feel of manic and high

velocity fun. The best music is for the mountain track which practically tells

the story of a 50’s sci-fi alien movie.

Mario was a kids game, no question about it. Sure, us adults could

get into it, but it was really meant for the young children whose parents had

mystically bottomless pockets. S.C.A.R.S. is much in the same vein, and

that is were almost all of its faults come from.

First of all, in an attempt to make S.C.A.R.S. more accessible to younger

gamers, the racing speed is far below average on any difficulty setting below

the highest. This makes the game uninteresting and boring unless you play on

the highest difficulty level, which is really only about as fast as the Normal

difficulty setting on competing racing games like Need

For Speed 3
and DethKarz.

Second of all, while there are some tasty and creative weapons in the game,

none of them do anything but slow the other cars down. You could come up right

behind a lion-mobile with a charged bullet weapon, let fly, smack the sucker

right up the tailpipe, and all that results is a nice looking explosion, a flip,

and a minor slowdown. There is no death. Also, S.C.A.R.S. unfortunately

doesn’t go all the way with its premise of ripping off Mario Kart and

therefore lacks a battle mode, which was the most compelling component of Mario

Kart to begin with.

On top of that, S.C.A.R.S. treats almost all inclines like walls, meaning

that you can’t ride up the side of a slanted wall to take the hairpin turn without

a powerslide slowdown. Also, hitting a wall makes the most annoying sound I’ve

ever heard in a racing game.

There is also the issue of not being able to remap joystick or gamepad buttons

to the user’s preference. You can change the keyboard controls though.

However, if you set the difficulty to full (a requirement of Ubisoft’s POD

also, as S.C.A.R.S. uses an updated POD engine), turn the music

volume to full, and are willing to be somewhat less than serious in your gaming,

you might just find yourself enamored with S.C.A.R.S. for a while. It

certainly fills a nice gap in the crowded racing market, one that can be appreciated

by gamers of all ages.

S.C.A.R.S. is a game for those of us PC gamers who do not also have

a Nintendo 64 (probably because we all couldn’t justify the expense of a $150

gaming system like we can with a $2000 gaming system), but still secretly wish

to pop in the old Mario Kart 64 cartridge and get down and funky with

some light and fluffy gamin’ goodness. It’s not really worth it, but just remember:

“It’s-a-me-a, Mario!”


Lighthearted Fun
Love da Music
Mixed Graphics
No real Multiplayer!
No Death
Too Slow
Who cares.